Paige Decker Shows off Blondie in a Sea of Schoolchildren
For the past four years, Paige Decker has been spending a large portion of her day with animals, goats, to be exact. The 14-year-old says she starting showing around age 10 and has only become more involved as they years have passed.
Decker and her brother were both on the San Angelo fairgrounds Tuesday morning, showing boer goats from their family’s stock. Decker said she got her start because most of her friends were showing. There are some perks to the activity, she says, and one learns a great deal from the experience.
“It teaches you a lot of responsibility, because you have to be out there with your goat every day,” she said. “You have to feed and water them, make sure you know their buckets are clean…it’s really fun too, especially getting out of school. Today I’m out all day.”
Decker says the number of goats she is responsible for at any given time varies, however she is very busy caring for the ones she has. “Right now, we have maybe six at home because we’ve gone to other shows and had to give them away. We have three here and I’m showing one and my brother is showing two.”
The hardest part, she says, is having to give the goats away if they make it to sale, or having to watch them board the trailer to terminate. Working so closely with the animals, she says she does form emotional attachments to her goats after a while.
“[It’s] especially [hard to let go of] the goats with a big personality,” she said. “I have one at home—his name is Evan—and he is the sweetest goat. Even the goats that you might not really like because they’re not the sweetest goat, it’s still really hard to let them go.”
Tuesday morning at the Stock Show, Decker took her goat, Blondie, outside to show a mass of schoolchildren who had gathered on the fairgrounds. Children eyed the animal curiously, then went up with a little apprehension to stroke his fur.
Decker stood calmly in place, holding her goat back from running away. When she first started, she was pretty nervous, she said. “I felt like I didn’t really know what I was doing because it was my first time out there and everyone else had done this before,” she said. “It was kind of nerve wracking.”
Nowadays, she still gets nervous, but it’s not nearly as bad. “I’m kind of someone who’s shy and I don’t like being out in front of a lot of people….but once I get out there I don’t really think about all that,” she said. “I just focus on the judge and my goat and that’s really all that matters.”
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